July 17, 2003 – Vol. 22 No. 19

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    SSA graduate, Law School student die in tragic North Side porch collapse

    Julie Sorkin, a 2003 graduate of the School of Social Service Administration, and Henry “Jay” Wischerath Jr., who had just completed his first year in the Law School, were among the 12 young people who died in the tragic June 29 collapse of a porch in an apartment building on the North Side of Chicago.

    Sorkin, who was 25, was awarded an M.A. degree from SSA at the recent convocation ceremonies. She also was completing the requirements for the Illinois State Certification in School Social Work and had recently been accepted for a position with the Special Education District in the Lake County schools as a school social worker.

    “The tremendous tragedy of this accident has only been amplified as we continue to learn of the great influence that Julie had on her fellow students, and on our staff and faculty,” said Edward Lawlor, Dean of SSA.

    “Julie was a bright, eager learner who was deeply committed to improving the lives of others,” said Karen Teigiser, Deputy Dean for the Masters in Social Work Program and a Senior Lecturer in SSA. “In dealing with the elderly, people with physical disabilities or children, Julie had a warm, engaging manner that immediately won people over. She was cherished by the entire SSA community.”

    Wischerath, of Buffalo, N.Y., who was 24, received an A.B. summa cum laude in American history and American studies from Boston University and was elected to membership in the Phi Beta Kappa Society. After his studies at the Law School, he had planned to return to Buffalo and work in public service.

    “Jay was an extremely personable student, well-liked by faculty, staff and fellow students. His loss will be deeply felt and mourned by the many friends he made during his short time with us here at the Law School,” said Ellen Cosgrove, Dean of Students in the Law School.

    Wischerath had worked as a substitute teacher in the Buffalo Public Schools and as a personal care aide for a man with cerebral palsy. Because of his interest in history, he also worked at the Jackson Homestead Museum in Newton, Mass., and the Paul Revere House in Boston. He also wrote the text panel for an exhibition on the history of fires in Boston that is displayed at the Massachusetts State House.